Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881 – 1938) was the founder and the first President of the Republic of Turkey. Mustafa Kemal was born in 1881 in Salonika (Thessaloniki, today in Greece, then under the Ottoman rule). His father’s name was Ali Riza Efendi. His father was customs official.
His mother’s name was Zübeyde Hanim. For his primary education, he went to the school of Semsi Efendi in Salonika. But Mustafa lost his father at an early age, he had to leave school. Mustafa and his mother went to live with his uncle in the countryside. His mother brought him up. Life continued like this for a time. Mustafa worked on the farm but his mother began to worry about his lack of schooling. It was finally decided that he should live with his mother’s sister in Salonika.
He entered the Military Middle School in Salonika. In 1895, after finishing the Military Middle School, Mustafa Kemal entered the Military High School (Askeri Idadisi) in Manastir.
After successfully completing his studies at the Manastir Military School, Mustafa Kemal went to Istanbul and on the 13th of March 1899 he entered the infantry class of the Military Academy (Harbiye Harp Okulu). After finishing the Military Academy, Mustafa Kemal went on to the General Staff College in 1902. He was graduated from the Academy with the rank of captain on the 11th of January, 1905.
In 1906, he was sent to Damascus (Sam). Mustafa Kemal and his friends founded a society which they called “Vatan ve Hürriyet” (Fatherland and Freedom) in Damascus. On his own initiative, he went to Tripoli during the war with Italy in 1911 and took part in the defense of Derne and Tobruk. While he was still in Libya, the Balkan War broke out. He served in the Balkan War as a successful Commander (1912-1914). At the end of the Balkan War, Mustafa Kemal was appointed military attaché in Sofia.